Three female media workers shot dead in eastern Afghanistan | Conflict News

Three female media workers were gunned down in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday as they returned home from work.

Local television station Enikass TV said the women killed were its employees. Zalmai Latifi, director of the station, said they were shot in two separate attacks after leaving the network.

“They are all dead. They were walking home from the office when they were shot, ”Latifi said.

Two other people, apparently passers-by, were injured in the shooting.

Latifi said the three women were recent high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 20.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Nangarhar Police Chief Juma Gul Hemat said an armed suspect was later taken into custody following the shooting, adding that authorities are still looking for other culprits.

“We arrested him as he tried to escape,” Hemat said. “He admitted to leading the attack. He is a member of the Taliban. “

However, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid denied that the group played a role in the killings.

Body of one of the women killed by gunmen in the city of Jalalabad is taken to hospital [Sadaqat Ghorzang/AP Photo]

‘Contrary to the teachings of Islam’

The three women dubbed popular and often emotionally charged dramas from Turkey and India in local Afghan languages ​​Dari and Pashto, the private station’s editor-in-chief said.
Shokrullah Pasoon.

In a statement, President Ashraf Ghani condemned the killings, saying that “the attacks against innocent compatriots, especially women, are contrary to the teachings of Islam, Afghan culture and the spirit of peace”.

Journalists, religious scholars, activists and judges have all been the targets of a recent wave of political assassinations that has caused panic across Afghanistan and forced many into hiding – some have even fled the country. country.

In January, Bismellah Adel Aimaq, 28, editor of the Sada-e-Ghor (Voice of Ghor) radio station, was killed near the town of Firoz Koh in Ghor province.

In December, gunmen killed Malala Maiwand, a news anchor in Enikass, and her driver in Jalalabad. An affiliate of the armed group ISIL (ISIL), based in eastern Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for the murder.

The Committee to Safety Afghan Journalists issued a statement condemning Tuesday’s killings and criticizing government investigations into earlier killings of journalists.

Without giving further details, he said investigations into past attacks are “not at all satisfactory, something that needs to be changed.”

The Vienna-based International Press Institute called the killings “an indescribable act”.

Declining peace process

Afghanistan is considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world for media professionals. Tuesday’s killings brought the number of media workers killed in the country to 15 in the past six months.

Killings have increased since the start of peace talks last year between the Afghan government and the Taliban – the latest attempt to end decades of conflict.

Afghan and US officials blamed the Taliban for the wave of violence, but the group denied the charges.

“These attacks are aimed at intimidating, they are aimed at pushing back journalists. The culprits hope to stifle free speech in a country where the media has flourished for the past 20 years. This cannot be tolerated, ”the US embassy in Kabul said in a statement.

The killings come as US special envoy to Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad returned to Kabul this week for meetings with Afghan leaders in a bid to revive a broken peace process.

Khalilzad’s arrival marks the first time he has returned to Afghanistan since US President Joe Biden took office in January and asked him to remain in his post.

Donald Trump’s administration, eager to end America’s longest war, tasked the veteran diplomat with negotiating with the Taliban, resulting in an agreement signed in Qatar on February 29 last year.

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